I don't have a clue how grace goes with parenting.
Really, not a clue.
Lately, as I've studied and prayed more about grace, I've felt increasingly convicted about my easily-provoked anger and my legalistic style of parenting.
But what do you do when kids don't respond to anything but legalism? What do you do when grace is abused and turned into an excuse to sin?
What does God do?
We've already discussed that a bit in this series, but how can I learn from what He does? After all, I'm not all-knowing and all-wise. I can't utilize the perfect balance of kindness and severity like He can (Rom 11:22). And if I can't dispense grace in the same way He does, then what am I supposed to do with it?
I don't know yet, but I do know one thing…one answer that the Holy Spirit put in my heart the other day.
Give common grace.
That was it. Give common grace. That's what God does, isn't it? He gives a certain amount of grace to everybody…common graces like beauty to behold, people to love, tastes to savor, successes to celebrate (see Matt 5:45).
How, as a parent, do I give common grace?
I give it by washing dishes, cleaning rooms, scrubbing toilets, cooking meals…and doing it all graciously.
Well, I don't do it that way, but I should.
It's easy to do these things resentfully, and to neglect doing them whenever possible. It's also easy to do them in a half-baked way, figuring that the people who are going to destroy all of my hard work really don't deserve my best.
When I have a bad day, does God shrink the glorious Rocky Mountains down to a size I deserve to look at? Does He make my favorite meal taste like Brussels Sprouts if I've been disobedient? Does He spitefully refuse to care for me on days when I've failed Him?
Doesn't He give good things even to those He knows will perish eternally?
My fear of seeing grace abused has often kept me from showing grace to others. My horror at being "walked all over" like a doormat has often made me protest against the very thought of graciousness.
But God gives common grace…to everyone. Even to the most undeserving souls.
Shouldn't I give common graces to my children just as graciously, regardless of how they've behaved that day? True, I probably can't give them all of the special graces they might have enjoyed if they had been of a mind to receive them, but can't I give those ordinary, humble acts of love with a willing heart and a cheerful Spirit?
I can't. I'm too selfish, too naturally angry, too lazy.
But Christ can, through me.
And I'm beginning to want to spread more of His grace around, because God is no fool. If He gives common grace to me, then He can give it through me, and He won't be made a "sucker" no matter how poorly His grace is received. I can leave the consequences up to Him.
And you know what? I bet those "consequences" will end up being far better than anything my anger could have created (Jas 1:19).
Give common grace! And pray for me that I will do the same. Please. I really, really need it.
My children will thank you…